Hart Health Strategies provides a comprehensive policy briefing on a weekly basis. This in-depth health policy briefing is sent out at the beginning of each week. The health policy briefing recaps the previous week and previews the week ahead. It alerts clients to upcoming congressional hearings, newly introduced bills, regulatory announcements, and implementation activity related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and other health laws.


House Passes Bipartisan Health, E-Cigarette Legislation

The House of Representatives passed a slate of bipartisan health bills under suspension of the rules last week, including:

  • the Dignity in Aging Act (H.R. 4334), which would reauthorize the Older Americans Act through 2024;
  • the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (H.R. 674), which would increase the number of health providers trained in palliative care and hospice, intensify palliative care research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and disseminate educational materials for patients and their families on the benefits of palliative care;
  • the EMPOWER for Health Act (H.R. 2781), which would reauthorize Title VII health professions education and training programs through FY 2024;
  • the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 728), which would reauthorize Title VIII nursing workforce development programs through FY 2024.
  • the Payment Commission Data Act of 2019 (H.R. 1781), which would provide the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) with access to Medicaid and Medicare parts B and D drug pricing and rebate data;
  • the Public Disclosure of Drug Discounts Act (H.R. 2115), which would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publicly report generic dispensing rates and aggregate drug rebate and price concession data from pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and would encourage the use of real time benefits tools; and
  • the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act (H.R. 3942), which would subject the home delivery of e-cigarettes to many of the same legal requirements as cigarettes – banning the purchase of vaping products to anyone under the legal age for purchasing combustible cigarettes. Online sellers would be required to verify the buyer’s age and comply with state and local tobacco tax requirements. It would not apply to Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved devices that are marketed and sold for the purposes of tobacco cessation or other therapeutic reasons.

Senate Passes Four Bill Spending Package

The Senate passed its first package of fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations legislation last week. H.R. 3055, which included funding for Agriculture-Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Commerce-Justice-Science, Interior-Enviornment, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (HUD), passed by a vote of 84-9. The bill would require the FDA to take steps to address the recent uptick in lung illness associated with vaping products.

The chamber later rejected a vote to begin debate on a second spending package (H.R. 2740) that would cover Defense, Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, State-Foreign Operations, and Energy-Water. The procedural motion, which required 60 votes, failed 51-41. Democrats objected to starting debate on the package in protest of the total spending levels set by Senate Republicans. The Labor-Health and Human Services-Education legislation would include only a one percent increase over current spending levels. Top appropriators have indicated that a continuing resolution (CR) extending into next year will likely be necessary to fund the federal government past November 21, when the current stopgap spending measure expires. Congressional leadership continues to work toward their goal of completing appropriations work by December 31, but little progress has been made on reaching an agreement on top-line spending levels.

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